Genetically engineered chicken eggs provide the narrative motor for this, the fifth, entry in the “Hamlet Chronicles,” as Miss Earth’s fifth-grade class lurches into spring. The eggs in question, stolen by an activist group from a lab outside of Boston, arrive in town on the same day as Thaddeus “Thud” Tweed, a student who challenges even the saintly Miss Earth’s sense of equilibrium. “I’ve tried every kind of schooling for Thaddeus except prison,” his mother tells Miss Earth, “and I’d try that if he were old enough to qualify.” Thud rapidly upsets the delicate balance of power between the Copycats and the Tattletales, founding the Three Rotten Eggs with Salim Bannerjee and Lois Kennedy III, disaffected former members of the established clubs, when they discover three mysterious eggs during Hamlet’s annual Spring Egg Hunt. Tongue stuffed firmly in cheek, Maguire (Four Stupid Cupids, 2000, etc.) deftly weaves together the strands of his story, from the hapless Professor Einfinger’s odyssey through small-town Vermont to recover the eggs, to the hatching of the extraordinary chicks (christened “Flameburpers A, B, and C”), to a benefit concert given by the legendary Petunia Whiner (“Baby Needs Burping”), and on to the slow emergence of Thud’s better self as well as Salim’s and Lois’s explorations of the nature of friendship. The tone throughout is characteristically deadpan, the humor thoroughly sophisticated; after five installments one might think the formula would wear thin, but, the title notwithstanding, this offering maintains a quirky freshness that fans and new readers alike will welcome. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: March 18, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-09655-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2002

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Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read.


The prolific king of the beach read is back with an intergenerational mystery for the 9-to-12-year-old set.

Ali Cross, the son of Patterson’s most famous creation, African American homicide detective Alex Cross, is “starting to think the worst might have happened” to his mixed-race friend Gabriel “Gabe” Qualls, who disappeared on Dec. 21 and hasn’t been heard from as of Christmas Eve, when the book opens. Ali offers an impromptu prayer for Gabe at the pre-holiday service at his all-black church as well as an impromptu press conference outside of it as journalists and paparazzi confront Alex about his alleged coma-inducing assault of a murder suspect’s father. Then someone robs the Crosses’ home that night along with four other homes; the Crosses’ Christmas gifts are stolen. Ali, obsessed with finding Gabe and feeling that these events will distract his dad and the police from searching for him, starts his own investigation—complete with looking at some contraband footage of Gabe’s unusually loaded backpack obtained by Ali’s stepmother, also a cop—and questioning his school and gaming pals, a diverse group. Writing in Ali’s voice with occasional cutaways to third-person chapters that follow Alex, Patterson sprinkles the narrative with pop-culture references even as he takes readers through the detective process.

Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53041-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Full of puzzles to think about, puns to groan at and references to children’s book titles, this solid, tightly plotted read...


From the Mr. Lemoncello's Library series , Vol. 1

When a lock-in becomes a reality game, 12-year-old Kyle Keeley and his friends use library resources to find their way out of Alexandriaville’s new public library.

The author of numerous mysteries for children and adults turns his hand to a puzzle adventure with great success. Starting with the premise that billionaire game-maker Luigi Lemoncello has donated a fortune to building a library in a town that went without for 12 years, Grabenstein cleverly uses the tools of board and video games—hints and tricks and escape hatches—to enhance this intricate and suspenseful story. Twelve 12-year-old winners of an essay contest get to be the first to see the new facility and, as a bonus, to play his new escape game. Lemoncello’s gratitude to the library of his childhood extends to providing a helpful holographic image of his 1968 librarian, but his modern version also includes changing video screens, touch-screen computers in the reading desks and an Electronic Learning Center as well as floor-to-ceiling bookshelves stretching up three stories. Although the characters, from gamer Kyle to schemer Charles Chiltington, are lightly developed, the benefits of pooling strengths to work together are clear.

Full of puzzles to think about, puns to groan at and references to children’s book titles, this solid, tightly plotted read is a winner for readers and game-players alike. (Mystery. 9-13)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87089-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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